Often, my ideas for posts come from questions asked at matches. This particular question came up at two separate matches over the last couple weeks. What happens if a PCC competitor comes to the line without a chamber flag? We are not talking about someone who had a flag in and removed it, we are talking about a competitor who uncased a PCC and came directly to the line without a flag. What is the call? Both times it was brought up, the ROs thought it would be a DQ, but is it? Let’s look at what the rules say.
There are two key rules we need to look at for this question. The first is 188.8.131.52: “A chamber safety flag, or clear chamber device must be used at all times and be visible externally whenever the firearm is not in a case or sleeve. Anyone found in violation of this rule will be immediately escorted by a Range Officer to a suitable range or safety area where appropriate corrective action shall be made.”
Basically this rule says that if there is no chamber flag, then we treat it like a holstered pistol with the hammer back or empty mag inserted (see 5.2.2) and escort the competitor to a safety area, or empty bay, make sure the firearm is unloaded, and remedy the situation by inserting the flag. In the scenario in the question, the competitor is coming to the line to make ready under RO supervision. I would ask them if they have their chamber flag to insert at the end of the course of fire, have them retrieve it if they don’t, and then give the “Make ready” command and if the PCC is unloaded, then they are ok. If the PCC is loaded, well then it’s a DQ.
I think the confusion about it being a DQ for not having a chamber flag is caused by 10.5.1 which says: “Handling a firearm at any time except when in a designated safety area or when under the supervision of, and in response to a direct command issued by, a Range Officer. This includes deliberately removing a flag from a PCC except under the conditions listed here.” I emphasized the key words. We added that last sentence to spell out what happens if a competitor removes the chamber flag before “Make ready” or outside of a safety area.
If the chamber flag is missing, or if it accidentally falls out, it isn’t a DQ. It’s a let a RO take you to a safety area or empty bay and get that chamber flag inserted again. And, to avoid any confusion, it is good practice to go to the safety area when arriving at the range and ensure that a chamber flag is inserted into your PCC before the match starts.